Jennifer Hawkins poses nude, “flaws” and all

Australian beauty queen and model Jennifer Hawkins appears nude and un-Photoshopped on the February cover of Marie Claire magazine. According to Hawkins, the photo shoot is meant to inspire confidence in women and raise money for an eating disorder support organization. Though her heart may be in the right place, Hawkins’ cover shoot just is doing the opposite of what she intended.

Not only is Hawkins conventionally beautiful (thin, white, blond, able-bodied, and a professional model) but the photo shoot appears to be all about flaws as opposed to promoting natural beauty. The motivation behind it was a reader poll that showed only 12% of women were happy with their bodies. Hawkins claims that she herself is unhappy with her body and that she dislikes her thighs and is “not a stick figure.” How is a conversation like that helping to change negative body images?

In the following video, even more attention is given to Hawkins’s “flaws.” It’s as if the message here is supposed to be, “OMG can you believe she would do this cover without airbrushing? She’s a monster! P.S. You should feel good about yourself even though you aren’t even a Miss Universe winner like she is.”

To me, Hawkins looks like many other high-profile cover models, airbrushed or not. That doesn’t mean that she is wrong to speak out about body image issues and eating disorders, just that maybe she isn’t the ideal poster woman for this campaign (especially if she continues to focus on the negative when it comes to her own body). After all, seeing her without any touch ups just isn’t all that shocking. This cover just came out yesterday, but already many of the reactions have been less-than-stellar. Says one Marie Claire commenter: “She wants to make [women] feel more comfortable about how they look, gee thanks, I now feel worse! I’m a size 10 and I still have more rolls than her!”

This feels somewhat akin to those conversations you (or at least I) have been having since high school, where friends who are waaaay skinnier than you talk constantly about how they need to go on stricter diets because they are huge fatasses. While they may honestly believe they need to lose weight and you may honestly believe you don’t, the interaction just leaves all parties involved feeling worse about themselves (Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere has a great section on these types of conversations, btw).

While it’s great that many fashion publications are waking up and smelling the we-don’t-like-Photoshop coffee as of late, this particular cover may not be a step in the right direction. What do you think?

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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16 Comments Have Been Posted

I agree a model (or heaven

I agree a model (or heaven forbid, average citizen) who is more curvy could probably be more useful.

I've always wondered how skinny women can help improve the body image of their larger peers. I'm really, really thin. (Actually trying to gain some weight.) And I have friends who are larger than me who are healthily average and feel they need to lose weight. When they bring their weight up I tell them they're a healthy, proper weight and that they are beautiful, but sometimes I feel like I can't get through to them. And sometimes I feel I've got no right to tell them not to worry because I can't speak from experience. I want to help improve their low body image and self-esteem because I honestly believe what I say, I just don't know how to be effective without feeling like I'm....I don't really know the words to explain.

Any Suggestions?

I think you should just

I think you should just keeping doing what you're doing - being honest. I guess I should confess, I'm thin too. So maybe others should chime in. But we all have body image issues. Some of us want to be bigger, some curvier, some not so. But I think that as women, we have to support each other. No matter what. And being honest and compassionate is the best way to do that.

But a possible helpful aside: I read a piece by Oprah (I know, I know) who said that maybe instead of complimenting someone on how they look, to compliment them on their spirit, glow, personality. "Wow! You look so happy today!" I think it's hard, because we all, as the model shows, have warped images of ourselves. We almost can't help it. But I don't think you should stop just because you think you have no right or you don't understand what they're talking about. Because you probably do. People think we're supposed to love our bodies because we're thin. But they don't realize we can have just the same reaction when we see someone who is bustier. I'll admit, I've admired models most of my life because finally I saw an example of a woman who was deemed beautiful and maybe even sexy and - OMG! she's skinny and flat like me! I mean, let's face it: We live in a boob-obsessed world. It doesn't make it easy on us smaller girls.

I think we should concentrate on the things that aren't so visible, like health and happiness.

I think if Jennifer Hawkins

I think if Jennifer Hawkins were the kind of woman to check her own stinking privilege and not do such atrocious social damage with publicity stunts like this, she wouldn't be winning beauty contests and being a model. It takes a special kind of vapidity and ignorance to do this level of hurt and still think you're doing "good" because your intentions are okay - that is, if her intentions are okay, which I seriously question. I think she's probably just got a new small-size underwear range coming out again and she needs to hawk up some publicity for it.

Aport needs Dr. Phil

Aport, everyone is more than titled to their point of view. But next time, try writing something with a little depth and deny yourself of an online thesaurus...So many big words, but you're anything but exemtempereneous. At least on social commentry.

Anyone - regardless of topic - who writes with so much agression needs to take a step back and check their own balance in life. I don't know of your issues, but you clearly have them. Relax and chill


a step in the right

a step in the right direction is at least a step? besides, marie claire is hardly the forum i would expect anything meaningful. the entire mag exists by feeding on women's insecurities: the other headlines say it all: gossip girls, right hair right now, sexy colors to dye for, etc, etc.

i do agree that her comments about her body and her flaws are, however, truly annoying. what do you expect? her entire career is based on her looks -

This is possibly the most

This is possibly the most transparent publicity stunt ever. So much so that EVERYONE can see through it. If Marie Claire was really genuine in their aim to address body image issues, they would not have chosen Jennifer Hawkins. Likewise, I don't care how stupid she is, Hawkins herself must know that no regular woman would sympathise with her disingenuous complaints about her perfect body.

Not only is Hawkins

Not only is Hawkins conventionally beautiful (I am by no means big yet my "flaws" would be so much more obvious!) but Photoshop has clearly been used for that picture - if not to remove so-called excess fat, then to make the skin shiny and even and render the overall result more aesthetically pleasing. Saying that this is a Photoshop-free image only widens the gap between Jennifer Hawkins's seemingly natural beauty and what the rest of us contemplate daily in our own private mirrors.

A good step

I think that this was a publicity stunt but also a step in the right direction. I honestly think she wasn't photo shopped. She did pose and show the best image of herself but what woman wouldn't still put their best foot (or in this case breast) forward. Her arms have a bit more on them than most models I see and her hips are actual size. Most woman I see in advertisements are impossible and barbie like. This at least looks real.

photoshopping isn't the only way of hiding imperfections

I agree with the critical perspective of the post, and I wanted to throw in another angle--the very act of being professionally photographed is a process of "hiding flaws." People focus on Photoshopping as an atrocity (which it is) that creates unrealistic standards, but the professional photographic process does, and has always done, that as well. I look at the images and can see why people (including me!) would feel even worse because our "flaws" are so much "worse" than hers--part of that is because she's a think, supermodel, etc., but part if it also is the flattering lighting, soft focus, angles, etc. used by the photographer, that we are real people aren't privy to when we critique ourselves in the mirror. Not to mention, her professional hair and makeup stylist...

So I guess I would question the suggestion that just because she wasn't Photoshopped that she was really providing the "naked truth." The camera always lies.

(as a sidenote, I do have a Bachelor's in Photography)

How can anyone seriously be

How can anyone seriously be dumb enough to think that a naked SUPER MODEL would make women feel better about their OWN bodies???? The largest problem isn't even that they chose a women who gets PAID to look as "perfect" as possible to promote healthy body image, the problem is the huge emphasis that this magazine and media in general put on the female body. We're not going to see a drop in eating disorders or a rise in positive body image until we stop making the way we look the most important thing in our lives. The idiots at Marie Claire are only serving to aggravate the problem, and they know it. It's not a coincidence that the worse women feel about the way they look, the more magazines (Marie Claire, Cosmo, Glamour, and other trash rags) they buy in order to try to look as "perfect" as Little Miss Universe.

I agree. Focus on the naked

I agree. Focus on the naked female body and flaws and only seeing a model portrayed all sound like great ways to combat eating disorders. (sarcastic)

I guess I'm the only one who

I guess I'm the only one who was positively affected by looking at these. I mean, the girl is pretty much perfect, but there are little things I can find here and there that, while not actual flaws, are familiar in that I've seen them in the mirror and worried about them, as they seemed to be utterly absent in models. You can't really see in the pictures they have on this site, but if you look around at the bigger ones and the various poses, you can see all these little lines just from her skin stretching as she turns, an awkwardly jutting bone, the slightly dimpled look of her thigh and normal things like that-- once again, not flaws, but the sort of thing that is considered unsightly enough not to survive the brutal glare of photoshop. It's not much, but for me it did dispel certain worries. Then again, though I do nitpick on occasion, I am for the most part happy with the way I look.

It may not be much, but it is something for a magazine to make it clear that even these genetic lottery winners have some of the same unavoidable human "flaws" as normal people. That she still looks gorgeous without all the "enhancing" is also a good thing, as it might allow the act of making untouched magazine covers to slip from the realm of gimmick to standard procedure. It also makes the idea that they do bother photoshopping these people at all even more laughable.

I think I also just like these photos from an aesthetic point of view. I think I'm just sick of the SHINY GLOWING BRIGHT PERFECT look all the magazines go for. I like that, regardless of her model-status, she does actually look real, rather than ethereal.

I'll preface by saying I

I'll preface by saying I haven't seen the actual magazine or any accompanying story that might go with these pictures, but I think the tactic of making the conventionally attractive girl admit that she's self conscious and flawed is pretty fruitless unless we're willing to get into why a conventionally attractive girl could feel like her body is flawed. And that relates to why we all feel self-conscious and flawed. I suspect such a conversation would not happen in marie claire, because marie claire would likely be implicated.
I think such a conversation would touch on air brushing, photography and creating unrealistic standards, but it's also about a beauty and fashion industry that make the pursuit of physical perfection seem like noble work. As if worrying about how you look is a good use of your time, and if you're not worrying or buying stuff to try to make things better, you're lazy. In the end, I think a model saying she stresses about her flaws creates a kind of camaraderie amongst women who feel the same pressure, but it also normalizes a kind of self hate. All that seems related to, yet seems painfully insufficient to even scratch the surface on eating disorders.

I agree that this is

I agree that this is ridiculous. This is very similar to the stories like "stars without make up" or "this 80 lbs star gained 20 lbs...What a fat cow!" All these do is make women feel worse about themselves.
With that being said, we should really look at the reasons why, we as women care so much about our outer appearance to begin with. Is it because we are just more superficial than our male cohorts, or could there be more to this? Instead of demanding these magazines to stop photoshopping or demand they put some regular people in their magazine; we should really look at why we care to begin with and why it affects us so negatively.
Could the reason women are so obsessed with their looks have anything to do with the messages we have received since childhood? As women we are told that our self-worth is based on how men perceive us. We are taught that what we look like holds great power, that is, if we look the right way. If we are genetically blessed with a slender frame, large breasts and a symmetrical face, then men will be lined out the doors for us. However if we have uneven skin, a few extra pounds or some other flaw, then we can not get the man of our choosing, which equals a lonely life as that single spinster with 20 cats.
So before we begin to complain about another ridiculous magazine cover or advertisement, we should really look beyond the surface, to figure out why we as women have become our own worst enemies. Hopefully someday we will not have to constantly remind ourselves that our looks don't define us, that we can be beautiful for our intellect, personality, voices. Until that day we need to spread the message, that women don’t have to base that self worth on what others think, that we (I know it cliche) are beautiful, and that we can all be a powerful impact on we think about ourselves and others.

For me it's not an issue of

For me it's not an issue of size (a lot of people seem to be saying that seeing a woman who is model-thin "with flaws" will just make other women feel bad about themselves), but how nice it is to see a photo that's just simply a photo of someone - yes, with all the tricks and angles and lighting that photos provide, but without the touching up and recolouring and photoshopping. Look, there are actual folds of skin where the skin normally folds when *anyone* sits like that! And bits of skin that are darker, and bits that are lighter! Size aside, I appreciate that this looks like it could actually be a real photo of her, and not a plastic creation.

Perhaps look at it from another perspective...

Take a step, if you can for a second & look at it like this: This magazine does what it does to get sold. Morals vs Puplicity stunt? It doesn't matter as it is just another thread in global economy that keep all of us employed. If I clicked my fingers and women had no insecurities, the mag would change tact or people would lose jobs. As would health care professionals, domino effect, etc. Every individual contributes to one another's requirements and/or desires in life. If a product, or service is not needed or sought after it will cease to exist. Or, like climate change we all have put enough pressure on our respective governments to step-in. For better or worse that is how the world works. And to that point, we may be the most intelligent creatures from many perspectives, but that very same ability to think, consider, form an opinion or an identity is the very same ability that gives women and men insecurities or happiness or whatever. The first step to happiness is finding a balance to everything in what we do and be comfortable with who we are. I'm certainly not there yet and like most we'll spend most of our time searching for that balance. But reading these replies, it's not really that hard to see who's grounded and who is not. "I have a degree in photography" - good for you. But mentioning this tells me your desperate to impose your point of view on others'. Do you have to quote your resume at every social interaction? The other individual who admitted she was naturally slim, almost with guilt!! Yep, she got lucky but how sad is it that she feels as if she has to apologise for it? Just remember, you're always in the middle; billions are not as fortunate as you and another billion are more fortunate. An opinion holds little persuasion if not delivered from an open, considered mind. Go forth, relax and focus on what makes you happy. When you're there opinions you give will be driven by thought, not anger, spite & myopicy. Lovely

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